Vaults: a ribonucleoprotein particle involved in drug resistance?
Zon, A van
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Vaults are ribonucleoprotein particles found in the cytoplasm of eucaryotic cells. The 13 MDa particles are composed of multiple copies of three proteins: an M(r) 100 000 major vault protein (MVP) and two minor vault proteins of M(r) 193 000 (vault poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase) and M(r) 240 000 (telomerase-associated protein 1), as well as small untranslated RNA molecules of approximately 100 bases. Although the existence of vaults was first reported in the mid-1980s no function has yet been attributed to this organelle. The notion that vaults might play a role in drug resistance was suggested by the molecular identification of the lung resistance-related (LRP) protein as the human MVP. MVP/LRP was found to be overexpressed in many chemoresistant cancer cell lines and primary tumor samples of different histogenetic origin. Several, but not all, clinico-pathological studies showed that MVP expression at diagnosis was an independent adverse prognostic factor for response to chemotherapy. The hollow barrel-shaped structure of the vault complex and its subcellular localization indicate a function in intracellular transport. It was therefore postulated that vaults contributed to drug resistance by transporting drugs away from their intracellular targets and/or the sequestration of drugs. Here, we review the current knowledge on the vault complex and critically discuss the evidence that links vaults to drug resistance.